Man sets himself on fire outside Presidency in Sofia

A 51-year-old man was admitted to Pirogov emergency hospital in Sofia on March 13 2013 in critical condition after setting himself on fire outside the building housing the Bulgarian President’s office.

This is the fourth incident of self-immolation in Bulgaria in recent weeks, amid national protests against monopolies, corruption and difficulties in making ends meet. The other three men who set themselves on fire, in three different cities and towns, all have died.

The incident on March 13 took place a few hours after a caretaker government took office pending the holding of ahead-of-term parliamentary elections on May 12.

Local media quoted police as saying that it was not known whether the man who set himself on fire outside President Rossen Plevneliev’s office was among the protesters, while a protest participant, Vihren Mihailov, said that he had not recognised the man, who had burns to his face, neck and hands.

Doctors said that the man had 25 per cent burns. Security officers on duty outside the Presidency had acted quickly to douse the flames, reports said.

The first self-immolation incident was on February 18 in the city of Veliko Turnovo. Local media said that the man told a would-be rescuer that he had set himself on fire because he despaired of his life.

On February 20, Plamen Goranov, who was 36, set himself on fire outside the municipal building in the Black Sea city of Varna in a call for the resignation of then-mayor Kiril Yordanov. Goranov died on March 3, Bulgaria’s national day, and amid him having become a symbol of national discontent, the then-cabinet declared a day of mourning for Goranov on March 6.

In the town of Radnevo on February 26, Ventislav Vassilev (53) set fire to himself, dying 12 days later. Local media said that Vassilev and his wife, parents of five children, had been unemployed for a long time.

The three incidents prompted Patriarch Neofit, the recently-elected head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, to issue a call on March 8 to protesters not to go to the extreme of committing suicide.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



The Sofia Globe staff

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